Proposal on the format of the All-Ireland SFC
GAA Ard Stiúrthóir Páraic Duffy has produced a far-reaching proposal on how best to restructure the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship and condense our calendar of inter-county games to give our club championships more room to breathe.
The Ard Stiúrthoir's proposal seeks to present a modest adjustment to the championship format that would produce a more exciting senior football championship within the current provincial championship structure and in a way that should not have a negative impact on the playing of county club championships.
The proposal will add eight extra matches to the provincial and All-Ireland senior football championship programme. However, when one allows for the abolition of the Allianz League semi-finals, the increase in the overall annual inter-county senior football programme is reduced to six matches.
Also, tighter scheduling and a revised policy on replays can bring improvements to the situations that affect the scheduling of club fixtures and the availability of inter-county players to clubs.
The proposal seeks to replace the quarter-final stage of the Championship with a group stage contested by the four provincial champions and the four round 4 qualifier winners. Pitting the eight best teams in the country against one another in this way would increase the number of high-quality matches at the height of the summer when playing conditions are optimal.
The new structure would provide a more exacting pathway to the All-Ireland final: the finalists will have had to compete with three of the best teams in the country at the group stage, followed by a semi-final with a top-four team that came through the same test. This will have the effect of ensuring that the finalists will have been equally tested and that the two best teams in the country contest the All-Ireland final.
Both All-Ireland Semi-Finals would be played over the one weekend which should generate greater excitement and also ensure both teams have the same period of time to prepare for the All-Ireland Final.
Under the Ard Stiúrthoir's proposal, the format of the All-Ireland senior football championship would be as follows:
*PROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: *Knock-out format as at present.
ALL-IRELAND QUALIFIER SERIES
*Round 1: *Sixteen teams that do not qualify for provincial semi-finals
*Round 2: *Eight round 1 winners play eight defeated provincial semi-finalists
Round 3: Eight round 2 winners play each other on an open-draw basis
Round 4: Four round 3 winners play four provincial runners-up
*(i) *A Division 3 or 4 team drawn against a Division 1 or 2 team in rounds one, two or three of the qualifiers will be granted an automatic home-venue advantage.
(ii) The format of ‘A’ and ‘B’ sides to the qualifier draw will be ended.
The current quarter-final stage of the championship to be replaced by a Group Stage, contested by the four provincial champions and the four round 4 qualifier winners.
The group stage will be organised on a league basis with two groups of four teams, with each team playing the other three teams once.
After the group stage is completed the top two teams in each group will progress to the All-Ireland semi-final with the Group 1 winner playing the Group 2 runner-up and the Group 2 winner playing the Group 1 runner-up
Order of fixtures in both groups
Team 1 v Team 2. Croke Park
Team 3 v Team 4. Croke Park
Team 1 v Team 3 or 4. Home advantage for provincial champions.
Team 2 V Team 3 or 4. Home advantage for provincial champions.
Team 1 v Team 3 or 4. Home advantage for Team 3 or 4.
Team 2 v Team 3 or 4. Home advantage for Team 3 or 4.
Home venues shall be subject to approval by the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) and
shall meet the criteria set down by the National Facilities/Health and Safety Committee. CCCC shall
make the draws for Rounds 2 and 3.
The above fixtures format for the group stage means that each team will have one game in Croke Park,
one home game and one away game.
Tie-breakers in the event of teams finishing level on points (in order of application):
(i) Result of game between two tied teams (only where two teams are level on points)
(ii) Score difference
(iii) Highest score for
(iv) Goals scored
(v) Play-off match
Group 1 winner v Group 2 runner-up
Group 2 winner v Group 1 runner-up
(to be played over one weekend)
At its meeting on Friday 22 July, An Coiste Bainistíochta considered the attached proposal and agreed to circulate it to all counties. It will be discussed at the next meeting of Central Council.
* See the below document for GAA Ard Stiúrthóir Páraic Duffy's proposal on the structure of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship in full